Colourful and Bursting with Energy – Lentil Salad with Goat’s Cheese
I'm having another Meat Free Monday today. Apparently you're supposed to only eat meat three times a week at the most, but in fact most of us eat it almost daily. I like the variety and beauty of vegetarian cuisine. All these vegetables make our plates bright and vibrant and provide us with many important nutrients. Today I'll present to you a lentil salad with warm veggies, fine herbs, fried goat's cheese and a delicious mix of nuts.
L entils come in as many different colours as other vegetables: yellow, green, white, black and red. Lentils have been grown all over the world for millennia. They belong to the legume family and are a great source of high quality protein - which makes them a very important staple for vegetarians. Lentils have a slightly nutty, creamy taste. They work well in stews, soups and salads as well as mashed up as a spread or baked into buns. They are ubiquitous in Indian cuisine, where they are made into dals and curries. Lentil varieties include brown and green ones, Le Puy lentils, Beluga lentils, red and yellow lentils.
What else is hidden in lentils?
The protein content of legumes is about 20%, sometimes more. Compared to other nutrient-rich foods, their calorie content is quite low. Legumes are an important source of zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin B1 and other B-vitamins. They also support our digestive system. One portion covers a third of the recommended daily fibre intake. In addition, legumes pack important secondary plant substances such as saponins, polyphenols etc.
In my opinion, there aren't enough legumes on our plates in general, when actually they're veritable nutrient bombs. Among vegetables, they have the highest protein content and are, with the exception of soybeans and peanuts, low calorie and low fat foods. Some types of legume have a protein content three times as high as most grains. In developing countries, where animal protein is rarely eaten, legumes present an essential source of protein - and as I've already mentioned, they're ideal for vegetarians.
Did you know that legumes count among the oldest crops in the world? They go back up to 10.000 years and originally came from South East Asia and Egypt. Some old crop sites in South America go back 7.000 years. For a long time, they counted as poor man's food and many expressions reflect that: dry beans used to be called poor man's meat, for example, and "bean counter" is a derogatory term for an accountant or overly pedantic person.
Fortunately these healthy protein providers are experiencing a renaissance of sorts - thanks to international cuisine, aside from still being a staple food in a great number of countries, particularly in Africa, South America and Asia.
Many people think that legumes make you fat, but that's completely wrong. Quite the contrary: they have a very high nutrient but low energy density. Around 30% of the calories in legumes aren't even processed by our bodies.
Did you know that peanuts, in botanical terms, are legumes as well? Strictly speaking, fresh, young peas and beans are called fruit vegetables among the legumes, peanuts are in the nut fruit category. Legumes are: myriad types of lentils, several types of beans (kidney, runner, black-eyed etc.), peas, chickpeas, corn and peanuts.
Depending on the type of legumes, preparation varies. Unpeeled legumes should be soaked for at least 7-8 hours (even better: 12 hours). All legumes should always be rinsed properly with lukewarm water.
My tip: If you put legumes in a pot with plenty of cold water and some of them swim to the top, you should remove them - they might be rotting. Use the water you soaked the legumes in to cook them - all the vitamins and minerals are still in there.
Don't salt legumes until they are cooked, otherwise they'll stay hard. Vinegar should only be added at a later time as well to prevent the cooking process from dragging out.
But now on to my yummy lentil salad recipe
Lentil Salad with Goat's Cheese
- 400g lentils (brown, green, Le Puy or Beluga - either cooked or from the tin)
- 3 carrots
- 1 leek
- 150g cherry tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 1 TBSP Sonnentor Gute Laune Gewürz (spice mix consisting of sea salt, garlic, rose petals, oregano, basil, ramson, rosemary, thyme, marigold, cornflower)
- 1-2 tsp Scharfmacher Gewürz-Blüten-Mischung (spice mix or a little chilli and sweet paprika powder)
- ½ roll of goat's cheese (I always use Sainte Maure by Soignon)
- 1 tsp Sonnentor's “Die Herzhafte” spice mix
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP olive oil for frying
- 3 TBSP olive oil for the marinade
- 2 TBSP (red wine) vinegar
- 3 TBSP nut mix for salad (by Alnatura, for example, or even just sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds)
- salt - I always use Sonnentor's Ayurvedische Zaubersalz
- pepper (Sonnentor's colourful pepper brand)
- Peel and finely slice the onions. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel, wash and grate the carrots with a julienne or potato peeler. Wash and finely slice the leek. Wash and halve the cherry tomatoes.
- Rinse and drain the lentils and put them in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until translucent. Add leek, carrots and garlic and steam over a medium heat for around 3 minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and spices.
- Combine the lentils with the vegetables in the bowl and marinate everything with olive oil and vinegar. Cut the goat's cheese into slices 0,5cm thick and fry on both sides in a dry pan until golden and crispy.
- Arrange the lentil salad on deep plates, garnish with spice mix and nuts and serve.